Rare bird, believed extinct in the state, has shown it can live at Pinelands site after small shipments from Georgia
It’s looking like the northern bobwhite quail may get another chance to come back in New Jersey.
The secretive and formerly abundant bird with its distinctive onomatopoeic call is effectively extinct in the state but small flocks from Georgia, where it is more numerous, have been captured and moved to a site in the Pinelands over the last four years.
Naturalists from the state’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, New Jersey Audubon, the University of Delaware, and Tall Timbers Research station, a Florida-based land trust, have been studying whether the approximately 300 birds that have been “translocated” to the woods on a Burlington County cranberry farm have been able to survive and thrive 800 miles from home.
The good news, the scientists say, is that the quail have shown that they can breed, feed and elude their many predators — which include hawks, foxes, snakes and raccoons — in sufficient numbers to suggest that the New Jersey population could recover to a sustainable level if a larger number of the birds are shipped in and their habitat is carefully managed.
Conditions on the 14,000 acres owned by the Pine Island Cranberry Co. near Chatsworth look suitable for a bobwhite population to re-establish itself, said John Parke, Stewardship Project Director and head of the bobwhite program for New Jersey Audubon. He predicted that 800 to 1,000 of the birds a year will be released by the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife on a portion of the farm starting in the next few years but that the timing will depend on when or whether other states are able to supply a lot more birds than New Jersey has taken so far.